Caritas Nigeria has launched a national appeal to support children and families in Maiduguri in Borno State as Boko Haram militants cause chaos.
Maiduguri is popularly called the “Home of Peace”. It’s the capital city of Borno State in Nigeria, with a population of over 1 million people.
The city and north east part Nigeria have been under siege from Boko Haram insurgents since 2002. In the last one month, the attacks have become incessant. They have claimed the lives of not less than 10,000 people, many families have been displaced and properties worth billions have been destroyed.
Boko Haram sprang to international attention in April this year after kidnapping 200 schoolgirls. They have now seized a huge swathe of land across the country.
The Catholic Diocese of Maiduguri has contacted Caritas Nigeria, appealing for help in the face of such a calamity. Diocesan Secretary Fr. John Bakeni said, “The last two weeks have been terrible for innocent civilians, Christians and Muslims alike.”
“Many people have been forced out of their ancestral homes, towns and villages by the Boko Haram insurgents. Most of our 10,000 parishioners and other Christians are taking refuge in Kolofata in the Cameroon.
“A good number of our brothers and sisters managed to make to it Maiduguri and are being absorbed by families and friends in the various parishes. In the last 3 days there is an exodus of civilians from Bama and Kundoga into Maiduguri. There are no practical structures to accommodate them because already within Maiduguri there are about 9 camps for the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).
“We have lost a good number of churches too in the past weeks. In Pulka, St Peter’s, St. Paul’s and our newly constructed Diocesan Hospital have been burnt down. St. Denis Parish in Madagali was vandalized, the priest’s car taken, the rectory vandalized and used as a base for operations by the Boko Haram terrorists. St. Louis in Mataka was also sacked and all the priests and Christians are on the run.
“What we are faced with now in Maiduguri is a huge humanitarian crisis. The urgent needs now are food, medication, shelter and clothing. Many children are out of school and their future undetermined. Trauma is real and our people are dying.
“Any assistance at this time of great tribulations will be appreciated but we count on your prayers and support.”
Caritas bringing relief
Caritas Nigeria is working with local diocesan Caritas to bring relief to displaced families in the North East region, as many rural communities are deserted because of attacks or fear of attacks by Boko Haram.
Caritas Nigeria has sent some financial assistance to tune of 1,500,000.00 Naira (€7000) to the diocese as a temporary measure to cushion the effect.
National director of Caritas Nigeria, Fr. Evaristus Bassey, said, ”Our fellow Nigerians are undergoing great hardships with thousands displaced from their homes. We cannot go on living as if nothing is happening. We have to change our lifestyles to reflect the reality.”
Fr. Bassey appealed to all Nigerians to extend a hand of fellowship through Caritas Nigeria. Caritas Nigeria appeals for help to respond effectively to the magnitude of humanitarian crises in the region.